It is time for another edition of “Random Samples”–I occasionally get samples from marketing agencies and/or producers, and these can often be grouped together into some sort of over-arching theme: Drink Them and It Will Come, Summer is Here, So That Means (More) Rosé, If It Doesn’t Sparkle, It Doesn’t Matter.
Other times, I get just a bottle or two that do not have any apparent connection or link. Instead of holding on to those bottles until the “right” combination comes along, I decided to link all these “random” bottles together, making their own category (and, being the math geek that I am, “random sample” has a bit of a double entendre….
This first wine comes from the Roussillon, a wine region a bit a part from the others in France. While for the most part, French wine regions are extremely regulated (some would argue far too much so), the Roussillon is a bit of the Wild, Wild, West (convenient since the region is in the Southwest of the country).
2010 Agly Brothers Côtes du Roussillon Rouge: Retail $40. 60 % Carignan, 20% Syrah, 20% Grenache. For a while now, I have seen the Roussillon as the Wild, Wild, West in France (did I just repeat myself?). There certainly is the semblance of rules in the Southwest of France, but, well, they are more “suggestions” than “laws.” So when I was sent this blend that retails north of what most would consider “everyday” I was a bit skeptical. On Day One of tasting this wine, that skepticism was warranted: there was not much fruit, nor depth. On Day Two? A completely different ballgame sports fans: inky dark with aromas of dark berry fruit, pencil shavings, and chocolate, this was a treasure trove of sensations. Rich and fruity with a heavy mouthfeel (15.5% ABV), this is not a wine that will wallow in the corner, waiting for an invite to dance. No, this wine will grab you by the collar and drag your sorry butt onto the dance floor. Sometimes it is nice to shift into neutral and go with the flow. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
The other three wines this week come from Victoria, down in Australia. I did not really intend this, but Victoria seems to have some of the same spirit that can be found in the Roussillon—a pioneering spirit with a willingness to experiment (I will have to check into the whole “lawlessness” angle, though). I recently partook in a virtual tasting featuring these three wines from from the region, and I was pleasantly surprised.
2014 MWC Pinot Noir Victoria, Australia: Retail $18. I have always said that it is very difficult to produce a Pinot for under $30. Why is that? Well, there are many factors, but the biggest one is perhaps yield. Yield is the amount of grapes that a certain plot produces. The grape grower can determine, to a certain extent, how much fruit will come from the vineyard, and generally speaking, “good” Pinot needs to come from vineyards with relatively low yields. The yields for this wine were down due to an early frost, which might be why at just under $20, this is perhaps one of the better “value” Pinots I have tried. Sure, it lacks the depth and character of upper echelon wines, but at $20 there is plenty of fruit, a bit of tea, and ample earth. It goes away briefly on the mid-palate, but finishes well. Again, this will never be confused for a top-flight Burgundy or a cult Russian River Valley or Oregonian Pinot, but you won’t have to mortgage your house to buy it either. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2015 MWC Cabernet Sauvignon Victoria, Australia: Retail $18. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. While no one thinks of Australia for Pinot Noir, a few might have had an Aussie Cab, but there is not a ton of the world’s most popular red variety coming out of the Land Down Under. If this wine is any indication, that is too bad. Jetty plum color with brooding berries, tar, and tobacco, this wine is a bargain Cab drinker’s dream. Immediately juicy and rich, but some depth and noticeable (but soft) tannins. Of the three, this might just be my favorite as it hugs the divide between New and Old World deftly. This won’t cause you to pour out your Napa Cabs or cancel your en primeur orders, but it should be high on your list for any holiday party you have on the horizon. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2014 MWC Shiraz Mourvèdre Victoria, Australia: Retail $18. 95% Shiraz, 5% Mourvèdre. Despite the tiny amount of Mourvèdre, MWC decided to put the variety on the front label to emphasize that this was indeed a blend, in order “to set it apart” from all the other Aussie Shiraz. Dark and inky with oodles of blackberry and even blacker tea, there is also a smokiness that makes this ever so inviting (particularly for foods prepared on the “barbie” [sorry—I usually have a rule against using that “word”]). A big fruit, full-throttle Aussie style Shiraz, but yet with an introspective side. This is not all power (14.5% ABV), but it is hedonistic. Wait to pop this until the meat comes off the grill, or you might find yourself needing another bottle (not saying that is a bad thing). Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.